Coventry’s Albany Theatre has postponed performances of its pantomime due to growing concern over the Omicron variant.

Kevin Shaw, CEO and artistic director of the theatre in Earlsdon, explained that the venue has decided to postpone performances of Dick Whittington after seeking expert advice.

Experts believe that the growing wave of infection is expected to hit a peak on or around New Year’s Day which is when the pantomime was set to start.

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Shaw went on to say the theatre believes that further restrictions will be imposed this week, as they have been in Wales and Scotland, so it is likely that the decision would have been taken out of their hands in any event.

Chris Arnold, who plays the Dame, remains optimistic about performances of Dick Whittington resuming.

He said that the decision to postpone the shows is “heartbreaking” due to the hard work of all involved.

However, he remains optimistic about the fact that audiences will only have to wait a few weeks until they can bring the show to the stage during the February school holidays.

David Meredith, chairman of The Albany Theatre Trust, said: “Two weeks ago we hosted a gala performance of A Christmas Carol, welcoming over 400 NHS and other essential workers as our thank you for the sacrifices they have made, and here they all are, back on the frontline facing another Covid wave.

“Whilst we have stringent protocols that are working well and we will be able to get to the end of our highly acclaimed run of A Christmas Carol, it would be wrong of us to host a series of shows – even if we are allowed to do so – that could easily contribute to the already exponential growth of this phase of the pandemic.

“We know that there are signs this variant might not be as severe as others, but it will lead to hospitalisations and deaths, and we have to take this responsible action to protect our audience, our staff, our volunteers and the cast of the panto.”

Kevin Shaw added: “We hope everyone will understand that, in the end, this is the only decision we could take in all the circumstances.

“Dick Whittington will happen, and it will happen safely at The Albany – and it is going to be great fun, so it is something to look forward to when this wave has subsided.”

The Albany Theatre has said that everyone who has bought a ticket for Dick Whittington will be contacted with news of the postponement and their tickets will be transferred to one of the new show dates as soon as they are finalised.

If an individual is not able to see the show during the February half-term, credit will be offered to be used against any other show in 2022.

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